tarantulas on strike

Thomas F. Riley Park; Coto de Caza

Last weekend, my friend and I went to Orange County to find tarantulas.  In September and October, hundreds of male tarantulas leave the safety of their underground burrows and try to find a mate.  

This might sound strange, but I have a childhood memory of sitting in the middle of a vacant desert road, smiling while tarantulas crawled all over me.  Parental abuse aside (just kidding, guys), I thought it would be cool to recreate that picture as an adult.  Or at the very least, to hold a tarantula.  Just one.  You know, seeing one cross the path wouldn't be that bad, either - is that too much to ask?

We were out there for two hours, and we didn't see so much as a spiderweb.  We did, however, see a herd of deer peacefully grazing.  As the sun set over the golden hills and a breeze gently swayed the grass, I pictured a black wave spreading towards the deer, on hundreds of hairy black legs.  When the deer finally raised their eyes and realized what was happening, it would be too late; they would be surrounded by thousands of bloodthirsty tarantulas.  You see, the books got it wrong - October isn't tarantula mating season, it's just when they leave the ground and eat a bunch of deer.  

Cactus hull